Has Public Education Sold Its Soul To Corporate Interests?

Unfortunately, there is just not enough funding provided to our public schools and that lack of funding directly impacts our students’ education. Due to the insufficient support from the government, schools end up turning to other sources in order to better the education that they offer. Whether it be through sponsorships or by making sales at events like school sports games, schools kind of have to exist in the business world. The question is, have schools gone too far?

That is what this week’s EDTC 400 debate topic was all about– whether or not not public education has sold its soul to corporate interests. Our two debater were Liz and Shaleen; Liz stood in the proposition while Shaleen stood in the opposition.

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Proposition: Public Education Has Sold Its Soul To Corporate Interests.

In her argument, Liz stated that public education has sold its soul to corporate interest because…

  • Of education’s common core standards.
  • Of the push for standardized testing.
  • Huge companies now dictate the information being provided to students.
  • Of the health effects caused by public sponsorship by companies such as Pepsi and Coca-Cola.
  • Universities are starting to run more like businesses than schools.

With the hefty list of examples that Liz provided us with, it is hard not to believe that public education has lost control and sold its soul to corporate interest. We know that schools, whether they’ve sold their souls or not, already act like businesses, so it wouldn’t take much for them to be pushed that much further into the business world. In fact, according to an article provided by Liz, there is already a giant number of schools operating under pouring rights contracts with major beverage companies such as Pepsi and Coca-Cola:

In 2005, according to one survey, nearly half of all public elementary schools and about 80 percent of public high schools operated under pouring rights contracts.

This is crazy! But what’s even crazier is that schools are making these contracts all the while obesity in youth is becoming more and more common. The same article goes on to say:

According to the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation, obesity rates among children ages 6 to 11 have quadrupled over the past four decades, and nearly a third of children and adolescents—more than 23 million kids and teenagers—are obese or overweight.

If public schools haven’t sold their souls to corporate interest, why would they continue to make contracts with these companies while their students suffer? I would hope that they wouldn’t.

Liz also brought up huge companies that are starting to take over public education and that these companies’ are negative influences on education, and therefor students. This video that Liz provided explains how the education company Pearson drives itself into public education and profits off of it:

Pearson has a very large lobby, so they lobby our legislators to pass laws that make it so more tests have to be generated because the more tests that are generated, the more money that they’re going to make… 40% of them will fail. And when you have these failure rates what happens is students have to take these tests again, and again, and again, and that’s more money.

Clearly, Pearson’s tests are not benefiting public education and students are suffering because of it. Why aren’t public schools moving away from these companies? Could it be true that public education sold its soul to them? Maybe Shaleen’s argument will help us decide.

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Opposition: Public Education Has Not Sold Its Soul To Corporate Interest.

In her argument, Shaleen stated that public education has not sold its soul to corporate interest because…

  • Corporate interest is beneficial to public education.
  • Schools determine which platforms are most beneficial.
  • School have started to move away from negative business.
  • Because of the ways that schools ethically consume technology.

As previously discussed, schools thrive off of corporate interest, and Shaleen’s argument is proof of that. But just because corporate interest is beneficial doesn’t mean that public education hasn’t sold its soul to it. Fortunatly, Shaleen also made sure to point out that schools have begun moving away from negative businesses. In her argument she also brought up Pearson and the controversy that exists over its widespread tests and textbooks. According to this article that she provided, Pearson is actually loosing business in the public education realm. Several states have starting dropping the companies’ testing system including New York and Texas. This is good new for public education, but does it mean that it hasn’t sold its soul?

Another article provided by Shaleen discusses the good companies that are making their way into public education:

The trends we see in investing are the ones we will see growing and expanding in the classroom. … the biggest investors in ed-tech are putting their support into companies that offer personalized and differentiated learning solutions.

This is a great example of public education using corporate interest to its benefit, but is it enough to prove that public education hasn’t sold its soul?

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It is evident that public education has succumbed to the financial benefits of corporate interest, however, there is also evidence that public education is moving away from money hungry companies and turning towards students centred companies. So what is the conclusion? Due to the examples provided by Liz, I think that public education is on track to selling its soul to corporate interest, but has not yet sold its soul completely. The examples provided by Shaleen prove that public education still has some self control, therefor, it has not yet completely been taken over. In my opinion, and due to the evidence that has been found, I conclude that public education has not yet sold its soul to corporate interest, however, it needs to make some major changes in order to remain in self control.

Thanks for reading! Don’t forget to let me know what your thoughts are on this matter by commenting below!

6 thoughts on “Has Public Education Sold Its Soul To Corporate Interests?

  1. Hi Tiana,
    I think you’ve done a great job of acknowledging both sides of the debate by recognizing the need for more funding and the point of “no return” where schools may take things too far in order to achieve said funds. I think it’s a very strong point to make in saying that public education has not yet completely sold its soul to corporate interest, but it is on that path if things don’t change. I personally think this depends on the school as well. As we saw from our class discussion, some schools rely heavily on corporate sponsorship and funding while others do not or have more local supporters. It’s hard to make the claim that all public education/schools are selling out to corporate interest because we cannot lump all schools together. However, when looking at he overall big picture, it can be alarming!


  2. Ms.Sydney McGrath

    Hi Tianna. Yet again another great post on the weekly debate topic! I agree with your conclusion when you state that education is on the way to selling it’s sole, but may not be there yet. However, it is hard to know if there will be a switch to stop corporations impact on schools if schools are not given government funding to support their students learning. Schools often rely on these fundings to get the extra things to enhance students learning, with that, their needs to be a change in the government funding as well as how corporations are marketing in the schools!

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Hi Tiana,
    I always look forward to reading your posts and yet again you did a great job of summarizing both sides of the debate but more importantly including your own thoughts on the subject matter and arguments presented by the debaters. I think your conclusion which recognizes that there is a problem and a need for change is crucial. As educators, I think it is our responsibility to stay optimistic in believing that public education still has some control but we can not put our rose coloured glasses on and ignore the impacts of corporate interests. As educators, we are a team and have a platform to make a change and I believe recognizing the need for change is the first important step to getting public education back on a track that prioritizes the best interests of our students.


  4. Hello Tianna,
    Fantastic job summarizing this week’s debate! I really enjoyed how you were able to provide articles supporting and not supporting Pearson and talked about the company from both sides of the argument. I think the biggest thing about corporations entering schools is about balance. We need to be aware with corporations are coming into schools for. If corporations enter schools for purposes like supplying laptops from a school that could not afford them, I see no problem. I do see a problem with Pearson textbooks. Liz mentioned she used textbooks with a Spanish translation but not French, with Canada being country with two official languages, neither one being Spanish, I think it would be more beneficial using a company with a French translation instead of Spanish. As always, great post to read.
    Until next time,

    Liked by 1 person

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